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Last updated: May 20, 2022
8 min read

What does one year of hair growth look like?

felix gussonekristin dejohn

Medically Reviewed by Felix Gussone, MD

Written by Kristin DeJohn


If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Whether you’ve noticed your hair is not as thick as it once was, or you’re just trying to change your style, you may be looking at your scalp and wondering if you can make hair grow faster and fuller. What can you expect in the months ahead, and how do you help your hair reach its full potential? 

Let’s take a look at what one year of hair growth looks like and how you can set your locks up for lustrous success.

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How much does hair grow in a year?

Your hair grows about ½ inch a month. So, you can expect about six inches of hair growth in a year. Several factors can affect natural hair growth, including genetics and gender, with male hair usually growing a little faster than female hair (Murphrey, 2021). 

In order to grow, all of the hairs on your head go through the following phases (Hoover, 2021):

  • Anagen (growth phase): Your hair is actively growing during the anagen phase. This phase can last for several years. So, you have the anagen phase to thank for your hair growth over the course of a year. 
  • Catagen (transition phase): The catagen phase occurs when your hair is ready to stop growing. It lasts for a few weeks and prepares your hair for the telogen phase.  
  • Telogen (resting phase): During the telogen phase, your hair is at rest and does not grow. At one time, around 10–15% of the hairs on your head are in this resting phase. It can last for up to one year.  

Hair loss and the hair growth cycle

Hair loss can occur when the hair growth cycle is interrupted. 

For example, a type of hair loss called telogen effluvium (TE) leads to the shedding of telogen or “resting” hairs. It can be caused by various factors, including stress, dieting, nutritional deficiency, toxins, medications, illness, and even too much exercise. Basically, anything that shocks the body can trigger TE. Fortunately, the hair eventually regrows (Al Aboud, 2021). 

The most common types of hair loss, however, are the pattern forms of hair loss. These are genetic and are linked to hormones. Androgenic alopecia affects both men (male pattern hair loss) and women (female pattern hair loss). Pattern hair loss typically does not regrow on its own. On this front, studies show it’s easier to prevent hair loss than regrow it later (Al Aboud, 2021). 

If you’re paying attention to your hair growth for a year, it’s a good way to check for hairline changes. It’s also a good time to try out ways to improve hair health and hair growth. 

One year of healthy hair growth: 10 tips

While you may not be able to force normal hair growth to speed up, here are 10 tips to boost your hair to its full potential over the next 12 months:

1. Eat a balanced diet 

Hair health begins from within. The best approach to getting the nutrients your hair needs–such as protein, iron, zinc, vitamin C and hair-healthy omega-3s–is to eat them. 

Eating a balanced diet full of healthy proteins, fats, fruits and vegetables offers the best building blocks for healthy hair (Guo, 2017).

2. Navigate supplements

There are a lot of supplements that claim to boost hair health. 

Nutrients like biotin, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, and vitamin D are important for hair health. However, research shows supplements are not needed unless you have a vitamin deficiency. Most people get enough biotin, zinc, vitamin A, and other nutrients in their diets (Almohanna, 2018).

It’s best to check with your healthcare provider about dietary deficiencies. Iron and vitamin D supplements are commonly prescribed to offset deficiencies. But, overdosing on vitamins, especially iron, can be dangerous. So, it’s best to work with a healthcare provider to correct deficiencies (Almohanna, 2018).

3. Quit smoking

If you smoke, quitting may help you boost hair growth. A 2020 review of studies shows that pattern hair loss (and hair loss in general) is more common in smokers than nonsmokers (Babadjouni, 2021). 

4. Reduce stress

Studies have shown stress can lead to hair loss. Hair loss, in turn, can lead to more stress. To break this cycle, experts suggest finding ways to reduce stress, like engaging in meditation, exercising regularly, prioritizing sleep, or cozying up with a pet or loved one. These stress-reduction techniques will not only help your body and mind, they’ll help your hair as well (Hadshiew, 2004).

5. Avoid harsh hair products

Avoiding harsh hair care products like chemical relaxers, perms, and dyes can help prevent hair follicle damage and hair breakage. A healthier scalp and hair follicles grow hair strands that are less likely to break off (Dias, 2015).

6. Avoid harsh hair styling

Heavy heat styling, straightening, and tight hairstyles (like braids and ponytails that pull on the hair) can damage hair and hair follicles. 

A 2020 study showed more damage and thinning in hair that had been heavily styled. That said, if you don’t want to skip the styling, ask your stylist for products that can help protect your hair shafts from heat (Malkani, 2020).

7. Moisturize your locks

Using a conditioner will help seal, hydrate, and protect your hair. In addition, conditioners make it shinier and easier to comb. This can help cut down on hair breakage, especially if you have long hair. Combing out tangles can pull on the hair follicles and lead to split ends. 

Different hair types may benefit from different types of conditioners, so ask a stylist if you’re unsure of what type of conditioner your hair will benefit from the most (Dias, 2015). 

8. Shield the sun

Wearing a hat or scarf when you’re out for long periods in the sun can help prevent ultraviolet (UV) radiation from damaging your scalp, hair shafts, and hair follicles. This can lead to hair that looks better and is in peak shape for hair growth (Gherardini, 2019).

9. Try scalp massage

A scalp massage can be relaxing and tends to increase blood circulation to hair follicles. 

One study of more than 300 men with male pattern baldness found that almost 70% of men who committed to scalp massage reported that their hair loss stopped or they noticed hair growth. The scalp massage sessions in the study were twice a day for 20-minutes for 10 months (English, 2019). But more research is needed. 

10. Consider using finasteride or minoxidil

If you notice hair thinning rather than hair growth, you can speak with a healthcare provider about over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications that are FDA-approved to treat hair loss. 

Minoxidil (brand name Rogaine) is a topical OTC medication (a liquid or foam medication rubbed on the scalp) that can help promote hair growth and is FDA-approved to treat hair loss in men and women (Badri, 2021). It can take about four months of continuous use to see results with minoxidil.

Finasteride (brand name Propecia; see Important Safety Information) is an oral prescription medication that is approved to treat men with androgenic alopecia (APA). But women with female pattern hair loss (FPHL) who are not pregnant and are not planning to become pregnant may be prescribed finasteride off-label based on a conversation with a healthcare provider. (Women who are pregnant, however, should not touch any broken tablets because of the risk of harm to a fetus.) (Iamsumang, 2020). 

You can also take finasteride and minoxidil together. Studies show that taking minoxidil and finasteride together improves results (Chen, 2020). 

Can you use finasteride for one year?

Yes, you can take finasteride for a year. In fact, the best results are typically reached within a year. 

Finasteride works by preventing the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that plays an important role in male pattern hair loss. Finasteride continues to help prevent hair loss as long as you use it. 

When you start the medication, it’s normal to have more hair loss. New hairs usually begin to grow within a few months. Overall, new hair growth is noticed by the third or fourth month of treatment, and more noticeable results are seen by month six. The full effect of treatment is seen within a year (Varothai, 2014).

Finasteride’s side effects include decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, and gynecomastia (male breast enlargement) (Zito, 2022). 

Can you use minoxidil for one year?

Yes, you can take minoxidil for one year. It maintains its effectiveness while it’s being used, and it is considered safe for long-term use. It comes in a foam or liquid that’s applied to the scalp and is believed to help stimulate hair growth by boosting blood flow and nutrients to hair follicles. 

Similar to finasteride, minoxidil may trigger some hair shedding at first in some people. These are telogen hairs that are released as minoxidil pushes the follicle into the anagen phase. Not everyone experiences hair shedding, which can be limited with the lower 2% topical solution versus the 5% solution (Badri, 2021).

It usually takes about eight weeks of consistent use to begin seeing results. After about four months, new growth takes over, and hair loss ends. Results vary and depend on your level of hair loss. If you have telogen effluvium, once you’ve addressed what triggered it, minoxidil may be able to help with regrowth (Badri, 2021).

Topical minoxidil side effects include some skin irritation and hair shedding. Additionally, misapplying minoxidil can lead to hair growth on the face (Sattur, 2021). 

The bottom line on hair growth

There are many ways to improve hair health and growth, including the tips listed above. If you are noticing hair loss, it’s best to check with a healthcare provider so they can rule out medical conditions like thyroid disease or anemia, skin conditions like seborrheic dermatitis, or an allergic reaction. 

Overall, there may be a variety of reasons for thinning hair. There are also many options to stop hair loss early in the process and to support a healthy head of hair for years to come. 


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